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    Photographs by Ellie Kurttz

     

    Liverpool Playhouse Theatre

    Wednesday 13th December 2017

     

    Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles is one of literature’s most infamous stories. From its various television adaptations to feature length films and more, each interpretation brings with it a new take on the classic tale.

     

    Yet Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville may just be the greatest adaptation of them all.

     

     

    This theatrical masterpiece is a thrilling adventure that combines gothic settings with high-energy action and plentiful wit. It is in a word, flawless; an exemplar of theatre at its finest and one of the greatest theatre productions I have ever seen.

     

    The cast of five features Jay Taylor and Patrick Robinson as the dynamic duo Holmes and Watson, while Bessie Carter, Edward Harrison and Ryan Pope take on a host of characters that come together to create the vibrant and intriguing world that Homes and Watson investigate day to day.

     

    Together the cast have you enthralled and gripped to your seat from the moment that the curtain rises to the moment the curtain falls on the brilliant Baskerville.


     

    Part of its charm lies in the constant multi-rolling of Carter, Harrison and Pope. Their slick and effective character changes flow seamlessly from one to the next, helping the narrative pace to flow consistently and logically throughout the production. Their characterisation is perfectly timed, helping you to keep track of the story and the character’s role in this intriguing plot. Indeed, you are drawn into the narrative rather than distracted away from it by the constant multi-rolling.

     

    This is encapsulated perfectly in Holmes’ and Watson’s account of their investigation so far during Act Two, whereby  Carter, Harrison and Pope are able to quickly change their vocality and physicality in the blink of an eye to keep the pace with the narrative re-cap. From the Barrymores to Stapletons, it is incredible to see the three actors taking on a variety of roles with such brilliant and seamless characterisation from one to the next. The trio are simply phenomenal and derseve a standing ovation for their incredible performances.

     

     

    But what of our dynamic duo Holmes and Watson? Well needless to say they are equally phenomenal. The energy the two bring to the roles will leave you with awe; Taylor striding across the stage with the confidence and assurance you would expect from Holmes. The chemistry between the two of them is evident from the start; the dialogue naturally moving back and forth, keeping up the pace for the investigation that lies ahead. The humour between the two is wonderful, particularly when Holmes unexpectedly pays a visit to Watson at Baskerville Hall at the start of Act Two. Robinson’s reaction to Holmes' unexpected appearance is hilarious, while Jay Taylor’s serious delivery of the dialogue mixed with comedy timing (watch out for his deductions about the stick in Baker Street during Act One) is the perfect juxtaposition for a fabulously funny edge to the tale.

     

    Everything about Baskerville is exquisitely designed. From the costumes that can be altered with ease to move from character to another character, to a constantly changing set that superbly crafted to detail. The backdrop of a storm in Act Two is excellently matched to the physicality of Pope, Taylor and Robinson, who wave their coats and move briskly on the set to emulate the ferociousness of the wind. The blend of production, design and characterisation is superb; further highlighting the brilliant work of the Cast, Crew and Production Team.

     

    With Baskerville culminating in an unexpected cliffhanger that has you wanting more, I would love to see the cast continue Holmes and Watson’s adventures to another thrilling tale. It is undoubtedly one of the greatest productions of recent years and one that I would highly recommend.

     

    5 stars

     

    By Sarah O' Hara

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